William Buse | Staff Portrait

Monday, Oct 29, 2018
Juilliard Journal
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Director of Counseling

Juilliard Counseling is confidential, free, and unlimited, and “we’ll be happy to give you time to discuss any and all concerns on your mind,” William Buse says when asked for the three things he wishes students knew about Juilliard Counseling. This New Jersey native received his BA from Ramapo College, his MSSW and PhD from Columbia, and his psychoanalytic training at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, where he served as director of the Institute for the Performing Artist before joining the Juilliard Counseling team in 1996. He also has a private psychotherapy practice.

What is the strangest or most memorable job you’ve had?
I put myself through college working the night shift as a nursing attendant on the locked psychiatric unit of a local hospital. I was an anthropology major and my mentor felt it would be a good experience if I took the job and treated it as fieldwork. I learned so much on that job that I took a detour from my passion for anthropology and committed to training and working as a mental health clinician.

What’s been one of your favorite days here?
My favorite days occur when I'm able to get out of my office and actually attend a performance. This transforms my experience of the students I work with and always leaves me very grateful for the opportunity to be at Juilliard.

What has surprised you about working here?
The motivation level of the students pursuing counseling is higher than anywhere else I’ve ever worked. This makes for a more intense and positive treatment experience that is very fulfilling for me and all of my colleagues.

Top three pieces of advice for Juilliard students?
Although my profession frowns upon giving advice (we believe everyone really has their own answers), I would say that—under all circumstances—trust yourself, be yourself, and if you’re unsure of who you really are and what you really want down underneath it all, then try out Counseling. We help with that.

If out of the blue you had a day off, what would you do?
I’d write. I’m finishing the last chapter of a book devoted to applying the insights of anthropology to psychotherapy. Once I’m done with that I will be writing a paper on the human consequences of immigration as reflected in the dreams of a migrant population that I studied for years. I am supposed to be presenting both these papers before a room of international colleagues next summer. Since writing is often arduous, the deadline helps.

What other pursuits are you passionate about?
Explorations in and around NYC. Recent adventures include: walking up to 107th street to check out the Nicholas Roerich Museum, a subway trip to Coney Island to see the annual Mermaid Parade, and a 45-minute car trip up to Harriman State Park to walk, breathe, and clear my head.

Any meal, prepared by anyone, what would it be?
Because I work late and usually eat out, I deeply appreciate any home-cooked meal.

What might people be surprised to know about you?
I have collected and read tarot cards since moving to NYC in 1979. I have about 100 decks by now and at least as many books on the subject.

What are you reading/listening to/watching/following?
I am now reading Phantom Africa, a book finally translated from its original French, that is part travelogue, part ethnography of the people encountered by the legendary Mission Dakar-Djibouti, and part auto-ethnography of the young surrealist Parisian author Michel Leiris. The book is from the journals Leiris kept from 1931 to 1933 while serving as scribe for the mission. In it he inadvertently chronicles in highly personal detail the demise of Western colonialism.

What question do you always get asked?
“How much time do we have?”

What question do you wish you’d get asked?
“Would you like to hear a dream I had last night?”